Reid McLellan, executive director of the Groom Elite Program, and Saginaw, a winner of nine stakes since his claim for $30,000 in March 2012, were honored by the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association July 14 during the organization's summer convention in Shakopee, Minn.
McLellan, who has headed the Groom Elite program since 2005 after serving as national coordinator, received the Industry Service Award. Saginaw earned the Claimer of the Year Award from the horsemen's group.
The Groom Elite education program has grown under McLellan's leadership. On July 14 he said he is working on a developing a horse retirement program at a juvenile justice center in Louisiana.
"I don't go a day without a groom or an inmate coming to me to say thank you (for the program)," McLellan said. "What they are really saying is thank you for caring."
Saginaw, owned by Drawing Away Stable and trainer David Jacobson, has won 20 of 39 starts for earnings of $914,690. Since the claim by Jacobson, the New York-bred gelding by Peruvian has won 13 of 16 starts with stakes victories at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course.
"He's the kind of horse every owner and trainer hopes to get when they drop a claim slip," National HBPA president Robin Richards said.